Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Semple Confusion, Not So Simple

My connection to the Semple family of Scotland is through my great great grandmother, Margaret Semple (1850-1920). She was born in Stonehouse, Lanarkshire Scotland on June 22, 1850, to Peter and Janet (Torrance) Semple. When Margaret was 21 years old, she had a daughter out of wedlock. Two years later, she married James Muir, a coal miner, on July 4, 1873. They had seven children before Margaret followed James to Illinois. Two more children were born in the United States.

One of Margaret's uncles emigrated to New Zealand in 1862 and an aunt came to the Massachusetts in the early 1900s. It is Margaret's aunt, Agnes (Semple) Taylor (1844-1919), who is the source of my Semple confusion. Well, her youngest son, Robert Semple Taylor, is really the problem.

Robert Semple Taylor

Agnes' husband, John Taylor, died at the age of 36 of cirrhosis of the liver, leaving her with seven young children. Her youngest daughter, Margaret (holding the baby in the photo below) immigrated to Massachusetts with her husband-to-be and his mother in 1904. Also, onboard, according to records I was able to find, were Agnes and her youngest son, Robert.

Agnes Semple Taylor on the far right, with her daughter, Margaret McNair (Taylor) Isbister, Margaret's adopted daughter, Clara Schomburg, and Margaret's husband, Andrew Thomas Isbister

By 1910, Agnes and Robert were living with Margaret and Andrew Isbister and in 1919 it appears Agnes died. All of the records, including census, World War I and II registration cards, and passenger manifests, indicated Robert Semple Taylor never married and lived with his sister and brother-in-law until 1937 when his brother-in-law died.  Then Robert and his sister moved in with his niece and her husband.

Andrew Thomas Isbister and his wife, Margaret McNair (Semple) Isbister

However, one of my "new" cousins is a Semple through Agnes Semple. Her tree is also well documented and indicates that the same Robert traveled to Colon, Panama in 1906 and came to the United States through New Orleans. My Robert Semple Taylor arrived in New York City in 1900 from Scotland. Her Robert Taylor married Grace Shand Denholm and they lived in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1910, 1920, 1930 and 1940 -- the same census years my Robert Semple Taylor was living with his sister in Massachusetts. Her Robert Taylor had three children between 1903 and 1907 and it is from one of those children she descends. My Robert Semple Taylor never married. Her Robert Taylor was a boilermaker for the railroad and my Robert Semple Taylor was a tire maker at a rubber factory.

Obviously one of us has the wrong Robert Taylor attached to our family tree, but which one?

Update: I believe we have sorted out Robert Semple Taylor. My Robert appears to be correct and my new cousin's Robert, her great grandfather, is still a mystery. My project this week is to see if I can figure out who her Robert Taylor was. This was a caution to me. Ancestry.com can make it almost too easy to find records and attach them to your tree.  I must remember to always do my due diligence to ensure they are records for the correct person.

(1) All photographs used in this post are courtesy of Carol Rolnick and retrieved from Ancestry.com.

1 comment:

  1. My great grandmother was Helen Semple (sister of Margaret Semple) daughter of Peter Semple and Janet Torrance. She was born March 26, 1863. She married William Martin in Lanarkshire, Glasgow. They had a son also William Martin (my grandfather) who was killed in action WWI in Ypres (Sept 26, 1917). He married Elizabeth Campbell and they had only one child (my father) also named William Martin. Do you have any information about the parents of Peter Semple or Janet Torrance? Please email me at bettyannemartin@gmail.com